It’s an unqualified “yes” from me.
Currently the BMA officially opposes assisted dying. But many doctors (around 40%) actually support a change in the law and a recent poll found that even more (62%) agree that medical bodies like the BMA should be neutral on the subject. These doctors simply aren’t represented by the BMA’s current stance.
What is more, doctors should not have a disproportionate influence on the debate. Assisted dying is an issue for society to decide, not just doctors. In the past medics assumed that “doctor knows best” and tried to impose their views on patients. We’re supposed to have left that attitude behind now. But when medical bodies campaign against a change in the law that is supported by 82% of the public, it doesn’t really seem as if we have.
This doesn’t mean the BMA and other medical organisations shouldn’t contribute to the discussion on assisted dying; they can and must. A position of neutrality enables them to contribute their expertise to the debate without this contribution being shaped by ideological opposition.
Hopefully, the BMA will reverse its position tomorrow and show that it is a modern, truly representative organisation that recognises its role in society.
* Prof Ray Tallis is the Chair of Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD)